Football ace declares: I had the time of my life
Former England striker Michael Owen was not ruling out taking to the saddle again after enjoying one of the biggest thrills of his life when finishing second on his race-riding debut at Ascot.
Owen, 37, who also starred for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United in his playing days, was one of 10 amateur riders to take part in the seven-furlong contest in aid of the Prince’s Countryside Trust.
Partnering the Tom Dascombe-trained Calder Prince, Owen made his move rounding the home turn and briefly hit the front, but ultimately had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Golden Wedding, in the hands of Tom Chatfield-Roberts.
Owen, who was presented with a memento after the race by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, said: “The horse was great and I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I can’t keep the smile off my face, I loved it.
“They seemed to go really quick, it was the fastest I’ve ever been on a horse, but the horse slowed into the back and whipped up on the inside and all of a sudden I was in front – I was thinking ‘come on now’. But that was a long way (out) and I got very tired in the last furlong.
“It was such good fun and I’m really pleased with the whole outcome. My horse ran a cracking race and I’m delighted to be second. I’d like to think plenty of good will come out of it, lots of money raised for charity.
“We’re all home in one piece and I had the time of my life.”
Since hanging up his football boots in 2013, Owen has devoted most of his time to his Manor House Stables in Cheshire and it was a horse trained there that gave him his first taste of race-riding.
Calder Prince, a four-year-old gelding rated 88, had previously won four of his 27 starts.
Owen cut a confident figure for much of the way, but was unable to quite keep tabs on the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Golden Wedding, who pulled comfortably clear in the final furlong.
Owen has previously enjoyed success at Ascot as an owner-breeder with Brown Panther at the Royal meeting in 2011.
Owen admitted the process had been far from easy, but is perhaps not going to hang up his riding boots just yet.
He added: “I’ve had messages from the likes of Frankie (Dettori), Tony McCoy, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh. Everyone was wishing me well.
“It was almost like playing in the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil when your phone goes mental for a day or two with hundreds of texts. I think my phone is cooling down somewhere.
“The not eating bit was hard. I’ve lost 20lb in the last three weeks and that was a killer. I’m going to stop at every service station on the way home and eat everything again.
“I enjoyed it enough to say I would do it again. It would be a shame to stop riding after that. However, I’ve got four kids and I don’t want to hurt myself. I absolutely loved it and I wouldn’t put it past me.”
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